Lower Canyon Lake, Trinity Alps

Exploring the Trinity Alps

Kyle Magin, editor of Tahoe Quarterly, just keeps finding the granite gems.

When most people think of craggy white granite peaks, they typically think of the Sierra or the Rockies here in the west – places like Yosemite or the Grand Tetons. A couple of years ago, Kyle picked the Ruby Mountains of eastern Nevada for a guy’s trip, and the dramatic peaks, alpine lakes and wildflowers were amazing.

This year, he zeroed in on another less-visited range called the Trinity Alps in far Northern California; an area I’d passed through coming and going to the redwoods on the coast, but never explored. A unique mix of Sierra, Coast Range and even Cascade both in feel and in flora and fauna, the range definitely didn’t disappoint our crew of jaded mountain men.

We camped at the Ripstein Campground, north of Junction City, and hiked the Canyon Creek Trail to Lower Canyon Lake, a fairly taxing 16-mile roundtrip. Signs at the trail head had a fairly different editorial style than what we’re used to in the Sierra, lamenting lack of solitude (we saw a handful of people the whole weekend) and quasi-apologizing for hikers who had taken out a beaver dam (while asking hikers not to do that).


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Portfolio Piece: Truckee Tahoe Airport Video

Here’s a quick video I shot and edited for the Truckee Tahoe Airport. The goal was, along with a print campaign, to remind pilots the reason they (or their passengers) fly to Truckee is why anybody comes to Truckee – the mountain character – in hopes that they’ll fly in a way to maintain the piece and quiet we all value.

I’ve shot at Martis Creek Reservoir before, getting pictures of ospreys and bald eagles fishing, pelicans hanging out, arctic terns passing through, and numerous other critters so I knew it would be a great place to illustrate the point. When the clouds were being all beautiful one day I ran out at lunch to grab a few shots and some background noise.


Mountain Biking – A Different Kind of a Love Story

I wasn’t an athlete growing up. Sure, I played little league baseball and soccer, but I wasn’t anybody’s first pick. Or fifth. Skiing had clicked at a young age, but we went on family trips to Badger Pass, a small hill in Yosemite, once a year.

My first sport – a sport I was passionate about and worked for – came down an unlikely path. In the form of unpaid child labor.

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Honda Element Alabama Hills

Honda Element Love, aka #toasterlife

About six years ago I was two winters deep into living in snow country (remember when Truckee/Tahoe was snow country) in a 1991 2wd Toyota Camry – not ideal. I knew I needed something all wheel drive, and the vehicle du jour of Tahoe is the Subaru Outback.

But I had always had a soft-spot for the box-on-wheels that is the Honda Element. I found a used 2005 in a green I like to think evokes the fragrant sage of the high desert eastern Sierra, and it became my ultra-light minimalist motorhome. I loved it from the start.

Getting the coffee and tea ready in the morning, Bishop, Ca. Photo by Lynn Baumgartner.

Getting the coffee and tea ready in the morning, Bishop, Ca. Photo by Lynn Baumgartner.

I’ve driven it up to Portland Oregon and down to San Diego, all over the Sierra and California Coast. I’ve packed it with camping gear, climbing gear, bikes, skis and buddies – sometimes all at once. I’ve slept in it, read books while waiting out storms in it, and worked on my laptop in it.

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More Fun, Less Forum Fighting

I’ve been in and around the outdoor industry for years – bike shops, ski shops, outdoor gear shops etc. I have been a gear geek and outdoor sports enthusiast for longer. The internet has been a great tool for sharing information.

And it’s also been a great way to get countless users to lose sight of the whole point of mountain biking, skiing, or whatever sport they’re trying to enjoy in the first place, instead spending countless hours going down the rabbit hole.

Internet forums are a great place to ask advice – what type of tires are right for the region I live? What skis for my terrain and ability level? There is so much choice (too much choice? See the million wheel size and hub standards in mountain biking now) in outdoor gear, it’s nice to get a little advice along the way.

But experts of the internet, kings of the digital domain, before you lay down the law with a snarky retort to the 3,001st person asking which ski is best or which bike is better, please remember one thing: The point of these activities in simple. FUN. Sure, fitness, competitiveness, mastery of skill are nice, but the underlying purpose is to have fun.

That means there isn’t a right or wrong ski, bike, shoe or backpack. I see this over and over again on internet forums: if you use a 98 mm waisted ski, not a 88 mm ski, you’re doing it wrong. If you are on a 120 mm travel mountain bike, not a 160, you’re doing it wrong. This is moronic, plain and simple.

If you have fun pedaling smooth XC trails on a slacked out enduro sled and you’re having fun, good. If you’re arcing turns down the groomer on 120 mm fully rockered powder skis and having a blast, you’re doing it right. Don’t let anybody tell you differently.

Sure, there may be a better tool for the job, but getting bogged down in number crunching is the opposite of what these sports are about, and looking at your skis, reading they’re 10mm too wide for the day and deciding not to ride is just sad. Go outside, have fun.

Another trend I see on the forums that drives me nuts are what I consider fashion questions. 29ers don’t look cool. What color helmet should I wear? Wearing a full face helmet on a cross country trail makes you look like a tool. STOP! If you want to play fashion show, pick another sport. I hear if you pick a team sport, they’ll pick a cute little color coordinated number for you. These are individual sports. Be an individual.

I’d probably get more clicks if I wrote a top 10 list of fashion flops in sport climbing, taking the 1,327th cheep shot at the shirtless bro with a beanie, but I honestly don’t care what other people wear while climbing, and neither should you. It affects our climbing zero percent. What skis you are on affects me zero percent.

The only place one person might voice objection to another person’s gear selection is if it’s doing harm – violating Leave No Trace, damaging a climbing crag, putting downhill skiers in the backcountry in harm’s way.

So that’s my rant. Do your homework, but don’t get bogged down in minutiae. Offer advice, but don’t mistake your opinion for gospel. Go outside, and have fun.